Principal Rob House signs the Stigma Free pledge banner at Spectrum Community School on Wednesday. The Spectrum Philanthropy Club has planned a monthly schedule of awareness campaigns to break down different stigmas, such as mental health and religion. Travis Paterson/News Staff

Club wants Spectrum to be first stigma-free school on the Island

Earning the designation as a stigma free zone takes a year, worth it, say students

A group of Spectrum Community School students is seeking to make the high school Vancouver Island’s first “stigma-free zone.”

The newly formed Spectrum Philanthropy Club, a group of mostly Grade 12 students, invited Robyn Thomas from the Stigma Free Society to help kick off the initiative last Wednesday morning.

Thomas addressed some 300 Spectrum students in the drama theatre about her own story of mental health, overcoming PTSD, and what can be done to break down certain stigmas including mental health, along with all negative stereotypes, she said.

“We’ll work with the school for the year to help it work towards being a stigma-free zone,” Thomas said. “It’s a process and at the end we’ll designate the school a stigma-free zone.”

Thomas then joined the club in the school’s front foyer during lunch, while the club invited students and staff to sign their giant stigma-free pledge banner. The movement coincides with Spectrum staff’s own initiative, Spec-Respect.

“We formed this group out of our social justice class that was supposed to happen but didn’t have enough people,” said club member Ethan Badr, in Grade 12. “We’ll hold an event every month, I think it’s really important.”

The school population is already a relatively positive group with low rates of homophobia, racism or judgment regarding mental health, Badr said. But the goal is to make being stigma free a part of the school’s ongoing culture. One way they’ll do that is by holding a presentation for all Grade 9s (Spectrum is Grade 9 to 12) at the beginning of each school year, starting in 2018.

For this year, the club has launched a season-long calendar which will identify different stigmas each month.

For example, in December the group will build awareness around religion as the month holds significant meaning in Christianity, Judaism and other beliefs, said Grade 12 Jalen Smith. January will focus on mental health, which picks up on the momentum from Bell’s Let’s Talk Day.

The banner will come out again and will soon be posted in the school, Badr added.

reporter@saanichnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

Samantha Lenz, resort manager for Oceanside RV Resort, says she continues to turn people away, who are looking for a permanent spot to winter on the Saanich Peninsula. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Tourism operators hope Canadian Snowbirds flock to B.C.

Provincial tourism industry hopes to compensate ‘monumental financial losses and hardship’

Patrol officers from VicPD’s Esquimalt division responded to a call about hateful graffiti in Macaulay Park Wednesday evening. (Black Press Media file photo)
Anti-Semitic, hate-based graffiti found in Esquimalt park

Police seek suspects after fresh hate-based graffiti found Wednesday evening

Victoria City Council approved two new affordable housing developments during its Oct. 22 council meeting. (Courtesy of Victoria City Council)
Victoria approves 72 new affordable housing units

Council approved new developments at 736 Princess Ave. and 330 Michigan St.

Victoria police are asking for people's help identifying the suspect of a sexual assault that occurred early Oct. 29. (Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD searching for suspect in sexual assault incident

A woman was sexually assaulted at the 800-block of Cormorant Street just before 4 a.m. Oct. 29

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Pilot Kevin Maher participated in a flyover of a ceremony at the Cobble Hill cenotaph on Oct. 22 in a 1940 North American (Noorduyn) Harvard aircraft. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cobble Hill remembers lost military members with ceremony, flyover

Annual event commemorates those who died in non-combat roles

Adam Ireton holds his son Weston, along with Kristen and Beckett as they celebrate Weston's last day of treatment for lukemia. (Kristen Ireton photo)
799 days: ‘Super’ Weston defeats cancer

‘Weston is disease-free now, so we will be going into a period of checkups and things until he’s 18’

B.C. Premier John Horgan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee arrive for annual Cascadia conference in Vancouver, Oct. 10, 2018. They have agreed to coordinate the permanent switch to daylight saving time. (B.C. government)
B.C. still awaiting U.S. approval to eliminate daylight saving time

Clocks going back one hour Nov. 1 in Washington too

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read